August 5, 2008

Grant Received to Help Clean Watershed: ?Oxygenator’ to Cut Iron Concentrations

By Bill O'Boyle, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Aug. 5--HANOVER TWP. -- U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski on Monday announced receipt of a $178,524 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install an "oxygenator" -- an aerobic wetlands treatment system that will reduce iron concentrations in the watershed caused by past coal mining practices.

Kanjorski said the grant was obtained from EPA through the agency's Brownfields Program for the cleanup of acid mine drainage in the Nanticoke Creek watershed, a sub-watershed of the Susquehanna River Drainage Basin.

The non-profit Earth Conservancy will administer the funds.

The announcement was made at the Franklin Bank reclamation site in Hanover Township, which was the recipient of an EPA Brownfields grant in 2005 and where work is under way to reclaim 13.82 acres for residential use.

Kanjorski said the area will be transformed into a residential development.

A brownfield is industrial or commercial property that is abandoned or underused and often contaminated.

The Earth Conservancy grant, according to EPA, is for the cleanup of hazardous materials in the Espy Run section of the township. Espy Run and its associated wetlands are part of the Nanticoke Creek Watershed and are contaminated with acid mine drainage from former anthracite coal mining operations in the area, according to EPA. The funds will be used to install an aerobic wetlands treatment system to reduce iron concentrations in the watershed.

"This grant will further refine a process pioneered 15 years ago, with just under $1 million from EPA," Kanjorski said. "I am extremely proud of the excellent work the Earth Conservancy has done and continues to do to improve the environment and the quality of life in the Wyoming Valley."

Mike Dziak, executive director of Earth Conservancy, said the project could begin in the spring. The site where the system will be installed lies between Route 29 and the Sans Souci Parkway, Dziak said.

"Whenever land like this is reclaimed, it's a benefit to the township," said Township Manager John Sipper. "The Franklin Bank project will bring tax revenue to the township when homes are built."

Kanjorski said the success of the project will allow the transformation of surrounding lands into commercial or industrial use and enhance economic development, improve the environmental conditions, and boost the area into a place where residents want to visit.

The $178,524 federal grant provides 80 percent of the project cost; Earth Conservancy will provide $44,631, or a 20-percent match, Dziak said.


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